May 18, 2011

Wind opponents push for action

Special to The Chronicle-Journal, 18 May 2011

Turnout for another Horizon Wind public information session Tuesday was down from previous sessions, but Big Thunder Wing Park opponents’ frustration levels remain high.
More than 60 people were in attendance to voice concerns ranging from noise levels and environmental impact to construction on the Nor’Wester escarpment.
“I think a lot of it is fear of the unknown,” said Horizon president Tony Zwig. “People would like it to be somewhere else.”
The session, like those past, had a security detail on site, but the meeting was calm. Large groups of people gathered around Horizon representatives demanding answers to questions they say have been asked many times before.
Don Novasat said he has asked Horizon several times how it will gain access to the mountain sites to install the turbines.
“The best answer they gave me was evasive,” Novasat said.
Ron Lappage said he fears the potential destruction of cross-country ski trails, claiming that if the wind turbines are constructed in the area, there is no chance the trails could ever be reopened.
“She tried to make me feel better about it, but I still don’t,” Lappage said after a lengthy discussion with Horizon Wind project co-ordinator Nhung Nguyen.
“The reality of it is, wind turbines and cross-country ski trails cannot co-exist. They have a lot of other territory out there, and they should be looking at other areas that aren’t going to affect ski trails,” Lappage said.
There appeared to be a general consensus among those opposed to the project that while Horizon may be listening to their concerns, it is not doing anything to address them.
“They can go on and on with these meetings, but unless they actually listen and take the appropriate actions, they are not achieving anything,” said Lappage.
Crysta Baccari, who has just returned to Thunder Bay, said she felt the growing frustration after attending her first meeting on Tuesday.
She called the project wasteful, claiming that Thunder Bay already has green energy, and that people in the community as a whole are not aware of the negative impact the wind project will have on the city.
“I don’t feel like the concerns are being heard,” Baccari said. “If people’s concerns were being heard, this project would be completely stopped, as it should be.”
Another public meeting is to start at 6 p.m. today at the Fort William Country Club.

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